Monthly Archives: March 2014

Spring campfire

It was a balmy spring day here.  After the artic blast of a long winter, it felt great to bask in the sun, reading a book with a hot cup of tea.  The peepers (frogs) were tuning up in the bottoms by the creek.  My crocuses are finally in bloom and the promise of spring is not far off.

Campfire with the full moon overhead.
Campfire with the full moon overhead.

Both of my boys were home today so tonight they decided to start a campfire and stretch out the evening.  There is something primitive about gathering around a fire at night with other humans.  It always grabs me in my innermost self.

A few toasted marshmallows.  My granddaughter delighted with the “fireworks.”  Our new puppy got tired and put himself to bed.

Country life is nice.  Now I have to go shower the smoke out of my hair.

Two brothers.

Two brothers.

Campfire fireworks.

Campfire fireworks.

How long have humans been gathering around a campfire?

How long have humans been gathering around a campfire?

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Lucky Red 2

Lucky Red 2 - final.  18 x 24, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

Lucky Red 2 – final. 18 x 24, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

In keeping with the red and good luck symbols, I created this still life after the first one.  There are a couple of common elements to Lucky Red the first, such as, the bamboo plant and the small fish glass paperweight.

Here you see a large jade dragon signifying the year of the Dragon and a jade/silver/gold bracelet with the I-Ch’ing symbolizing Ta Yu or number 14.  Unfortunately the bracelet wasn’t so lucky as it was damaged in a bike wreck.  Humph!  I also have a sleeping cat from Provence suggesting my name – and the cat sleeps with one eye open.  The gold cup is from my mother and the tea is Yogi brand (Detox).  I always like to incorporate a sense of humor or irony in my work if I can do it very subtly.  The seashell doesn’t represent anything in particular; I just like it.  And the red cloths for the background – one a kind of orangey-red batik and the other a medium dark red.

Lucky Red 2 - initial still life set up.  Notice the peach gel to diffuse the light.

Lucky Red 2 – initial still life set up. Notice the peach gel to diffuse the light.

Lucky Red 2, initial drawing on the canvas

Lucky Red 2, initial drawing on the canvas

Lucky Red 2 - first washes

Lucky Red 2 – first washes

Lucky Red 2 - more blocking in major colors

Lucky Red 2 – more blocking in major colors

Lucky Red 2 - adding more colors

Lucky Red 2 – adding more colors

Lucky Red 2 - step 6, adding more details, color corrections

Lucky Red 2 – step 6, adding more details, color corrections

Lucky Red 2 - adding more details.  This is the 85% mark when all that is left is to tweak the details.

Lucky Red 2 – adding more details. This is the 85% mark when all that is left is to tweak the details.

A view of the painting with the still life set up behind it.

A view of the painting with the still life set up behind it.

Lucky Red 2 - cup detail.  Notice how abstractly this gold cup is painted.

Lucky Red 2 – cup detail. Notice how abstractly this gold cup is painted.

Lucky Red 2 - detail of shell.  Notice how loose the brush strokes are.  It is a real accomplishment to get the effect with just one pass.

Lucky Red 2 – detail of shell. Notice how loose the brush strokes are. It is a real accomplishment to get the effect with just one pass.

Lucky Red 2 - detail, sleeping cat

Lucky Red 2 – detail, sleeping cat

Lucky Red 2 - final.  18 x 24, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

Lucky Red 2 – final. 18 x 24, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

Real or illusion?

Many years ago I read that when Andrew Wyeth was complimented on the realism of his paintings that he responded, “All realistic art is an optical illusion.  You’re taking paint, applying it to a two-dimensional surface and tricking the eye into believing that they’re seeing a real object.” Although this didn’t quite sink in at the time, over the years I’ve come to understand what he was saying.

When I paint a subject in a realistic manner, I am literally fooling the eye.  My son was looking at the painting, Lucky Red, and went up close to examine it.  After a while, he commented that there really wasn’t much there.  I just laughed.  “You’re right,” I said.  “It’s all an optical illusion.”

While I admire artists who have the tenacity to paint every little hair on a rabbit, I really wonder why they are doing that.  Isn’t the entire object of the painting to convey the mood and feeling of the artist?  Personally I believe in letting the viewer become part of the painting by bringing their own knowledge and imagination to the work.  The hard edges certainly define some critical points, but soft edges let one area slide into another, creating a cohesiveness that cannot be obtained photo realism.  My personal opinion, anyway.

Go back and look at some of the original paintings that I’ve posted on here – Lucky Red, Grand Canyon at Moran Point, and Blue Bottles with Lemons.  Then look at these close-up.

Detail - Lucky Red.  Notice how abstractly the fish and seaweed are painted in this glass paperweight.

Detail – Lucky Red. Notice how abstractly the fish and seaweed are painted in this glass paperweight.

The golden Buddha is also painted very loosely.  Notice the sparkles of the ribbon, too.

The golden Buddha is also painted very loosely. Notice the sparkles of the ribbon, too.

This Mediterranean glass paperweight is a mash of swirling colors.  Again, the sparkles on the blue ribbon.

This Mediterranean glass paperweight is a mash of swirling colors. Again, the sparkles on the blue ribbon.

Notice the lost edges of this paperweight blending into the folds of the cloth.

Notice the lost edges of this paperweight blending into the folds of the cloth.

This tree in Grand Canyon at Moran Point is very loosely painted when viewed in detail.

This tree in Grand Canyon at Moran Point is very loosely painted when viewed in detail.

Again, the viewer's eye is blending the colors in this yellow lemon.

Again, the viewer’s eye is blending the colors in this yellow lemon.